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“To build a successful brand, both offline and online presence must coexist,” says Ananth Narayanan

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India is undergoing rapid digitization, transforming all aspects of life, including the way consumers find products, purchase and identify with brands. The changes have accelerated the adoption of e-commerce in the country, a market expected to grow by 96% between 2021 and 2025, according to a
report by Forbes.



Still Anant NarayanFounder & CEO of mensa Brands, denies that e-commerce will remove the need for brands to maintain an offline presence. His company has become a leader in accelerating e-commerce, technology, marketing and other business needs for fashion, home and beauty brands.

“To build a big successful brand in India, it is not possible to do this offline,” Narayanan told a fireplace chat at a Times Bridge event in Bangalore this month. Speaking to Viral Jani, EVP & India Country Head at Times Bridge, Narayanan emphasized, “Online and offline should coexist.”

Narayanan, who has decades of experience in stints at Myntra and McKinsey, identified common setbacks facing Indian companies. “There are three reasons brands don’t scale: the first is talent, because it’s very difficult for small brands to attract the kind of talent they need. Second is expertise, especially in technology, and third is capital.”

The industry veteran also noted the dynamic consumer trends in India, which open up new opportunities for brands. “The next 100 million customers are in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities,” Narayanan noted. “More women [customers]. More regional languages.”

Despite the discerning and evolving Indian consumer, Narayanan shared a simple tip for founders: focus on value creation. “Value creation is when you solve a problem that is difficult for others to solve – and you solve it well.”

The result will be targeted brands that scale across India – and the world. Narayanan is convinced that there is potential. “I think in the next 10 years we will see a lot of Indian brands go global.”

Mensa Brands from Bangalore was founded in 2021 by Ananth Narayanan and collaborates with brands such as Villain, Dennis Lingo, Priyaasi, Karagiri and Pebble. The company is backed by major global investors, including Accel Partners, Falcon Edge Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Prosus and Tiger Global Management. It has also secured debt financing from Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital, Oxyzo, Stride Ventures and TradeCred.

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